Ireland lost 27-19 to Wales in the opening round of Women's Six Nations on Saturday evening. Despite the loss, Ireland captain Nichola Fryday and head coach Greg McWilliams felt there were aspects of the performance to be proud about.
Ireland had a 14-5 lead at half-time following tries from Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe and Linda Djougang. Stacey Flood added another in the second half but Wales scored four of their own to seal the away win.
"We have to own our performances," McWilliams, who was in charge of Ireland for the first time, told Virgin Media.
"At the end there, we saw the Wales power come through. We'd worked on our maul defence, we knew it was coming, but they were very strong, they looked after the ball well.
"Sometimes, in sport, you lose your momentum, struggle to gain the momentum back. I'm really proud of the girls. I thought so many of their efforts, what we're working on in training, to see that come through in the game, means that we're ready to move on, improve and get better."
— Virgin Media Sport (@VMSportIE) March 26, 2022
Wales restricted Ireland to just 35 per cent possession at the RDS.
"We ran out of time in a way," said McWilliams.
"I thought Wales controlled the ball, particularly in the last 20. Eimear going off didn't help, we were one player short defensively, and we got weak on that narrow side.
"Now, we get to work. Now we've got some really good quality footage from six angles. We can go through it and really become better.
'We're getting to go around Ireland now'
"I think our defensive shape was good. I thought there were times that we could have got on the ball - maybe they could have been turnovers in another game, and we were unlucky in that regard. Their energy, particularly in that first half against big, powerful people, I was really proud of that. We saw glimpses of what we were working on in terms of our attacking shape come through. I thought we opened up some good holes at times.
"We have a lot to build on. It's disappointing to get the loss. No doubt about it. There's enough there to be proud of moving forward.
"You finish a game like that, and next thing it's France away. We'll just take the learnings for this, we'll work during the week, we'll get better every single time we're together as a group."
Ireland defeated Wales 45-0 in last year's Six Nations. Though, this was a fresh-looking Ireland team under their new head coach. Wales also had professional players in the side for the first time.
"I'm hugely proud of the girls," said Fryday.
"That was exactly the effort that we want. But, look, it didn't go our way in the end. Wales, credit to them, they showed their power game that they are notorious for. They showed the experience that they have.
"There's huge positives there for us, that we're going to take, and we're take our learnings from the bits that we got wrong.
"We're getting to go around Ireland now for the next few weeks. Down to Cork, and then up to Belfast, and we're really excited to get out and see our supporters around the country."